The US and Russia signed a landmark disarmament treaty yesterday they hope will herald better bilateral ties and raise pressure on countries seeking nuclear weapons to renounce such ambitions.
US President Barack Obama and Russian Dmitry Medvedev signed the pact at a ceremony in the medieval Prague Castle after talks that covered nuclear security, Iran’s atomic program and an uprising in the strategic Central Asian state of Kyrgyzstan.
The agreement will cut strategic nuclear arsenals deployed by the former Cold War foes by 30 percent within seven years, but leave each with enough to destroy the other. Both major nuclear powers needed to show they were serious about reducing their vast stockpiles to lend weight to efforts to curb the atomic ambitions of countries such as Iran and North Korea, and avoid accusations of hypocrisy.
White House officials told reporters on Obama’s flight to Prague that tougher UN sanctions against Iran’s disputed nuclear program would be prominent in his talks with Medvedev, although no specific announcements were expected.
“The Russians are already committed to holding Iran accountable through the multilateral sanctions regime,” deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said.
The situation in Kyrgyzstan, where opposition protesters forced out Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev on Wednesday, thrust its way on to the agenda as both Washington and Moscow have military bases in the poor Central Asian state. The US base at Manas is vital for supplying NATO forces in Afghanistan.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin effectively recognized the interim Kyrgyz government formed by opposition leader Roza Otunbayeva yesterday, speaking to her by telephone, his spokesman said. There was no immediate word on whether Washington would follow suit.
Obama this week announced a shift in US nuclear doctrine, pledging never to use atomic weapons against non-nuclear states, as he sought to build momentum for a nuclear security summit on Monday and Tuesday in Washington.
The US president set out his long-term goal to work toward a world without nuclear weapons in a speech at the same Prague Castle a year ago.
Medvedev said on arrival on Wednesday that the treaty could play a considerable role in shaping disarmament in the future. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Obama hoped and expected the US Senate would ratify the treaty this year, before mid-term elections may change the composition of the upper house of Congress, controlled by the Democrats.
Analysts expected Obama to use the signing to build pressure on Tehran, along with the nuclear summit in Washington and a meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) next week.
Steven Pifer, an arms control expert at the Brookings Institution, said the pact with Russia would give the US delegation more credibility at the non-proliferation conference.
“If the United States and Russia were to show up with no agreement and between the two of them controlling 95 percent of the weapons, it’s pretty easy for the non-nuclear states to say: ‘Well, you’re not doing your part, why should we?’” Pifer said.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
They stand as eyesores to most passers-by and potential public health risks to authorities, decaying buildings wrapped in tangles of exposed wire, studded with protruding leaky plastic pipes, vegetation billowing from cracks and terraces where particulates from polluted air have accumulated over time. With skyscrapers and ultramodern developments on every side, some of these “nail houses” are also sitting on land worth millions of dollars in Shenzhen’s inferno of a property market, where new-unit and second-hand home prices rival London. In battles over land and development, the nail house phenomenon has become widespread throughout China over the past two decades, with owners
An Italian alpine resort on Friday remained on high alert over fears that a vast chunk of a glacier on the slopes of the Mont Blanc massif could plummet in high temperatures. “No one gets through! No cars, bikes or pedestrians,” was the message at a checkpoint where an automatic barrier and two guards blocked the small road snaking up into a lush valley below the Planpincieux glacier, near the town of Courmayeur and the Italian-French border. The blockade has largely been greeted with contempt by the locals, one of whom said: “It’s a joke.” The huge ice block measuring around 500,000 cubic
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong (FCC) yesterday said that reporters in the territory were experiencing “highly unusual” visas problems, and called on the US and China to stop using the media as a political weapon. Journalists have been caught up in US-China tensions, with both sides placing limits or expelling reporters from their territories in the past few months. Now the spat is filtering into Hong Kong, a regional press hub nominally in charge of its own immigration policies. The FCC said in a statement that multiple media firms had reported delays getting visas in recent months. “The delays have affected journalists